Arizona Water Institute funds NAU projects

The Arizona Water Institute has announced that 10 Northern Arizona University faculty will receive funding in the first year of the institute’s collaborative grants program. The initial grants total $461,000.

Of the 11 projects funded by the institute, NAU is participating in seven.

“The Arizona Water Institute is a collaboration of Arizona’s three universities, focused on real-world solutions to the state’s water challenges,” said Kathy Jacobs, executive director of the institute. “It is also charged with building the state’s economy through technology transfer and developing sustainable water supply solutions that can be used throughout the arid regions of the world.”

“The NAU projects funded by the institute focus on critical water issues that impact Flagstaff and northern Arizona and the tribal communities,” said Abe Springer, who manages the Arizona Water Institute projects for NAU. “The NAU components of these projects will bring more than $100,000 of new funding to Flagstaff.”

Among the NAU projects funded are:

  • An evaluation of treatment options to remove pharmaceuticals from wastewater. This is a key problem for Arizona, since the medicines that people take are now being found in wastewater discharges, in groundwater, and in multiple species of fish and amphibians.
  • Funding to work in partnership with the Nature Conservancy and the Verde Partnership on assessing the water needs for habitat protection on the Verde River.
  • Funding to share a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory at the Department of Health Services in Phoenix. This will reduce the cost of providing access to important laboratory testing devices for all three universities.
  • Two projects supporting water management on Indian reservations, one to develop a climate and water supply monitoring network on the Navajo Nation, and another to support the development of water-management and water-quality plans in cooperation with tribes through the Inter-tribal Council.
  • An evaluation of the conservation requirements developed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources within the management plans for Active Management Areas.
  • The development of the Arizona Hydrologic Information System, which is a new way to access water related data through the internet.

The initial investment from the Arizona Water Institute was matched by $381,000 from other sponsored projects at the universities and more than $282,000 from outside partners and agencies. All of the projects involve partners from community groups, state agencies, tribes, utilities and private industry. Funds for these awards are from a legislative appropriation to the three universities.

Funded investigators at NAU include Diana Anderson, Center for Environmental Sciences and Education; Bill Auberle, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Jani Ingram, Chemistry and Biochemistry; Dieter Otte, Computer Science; Catherine Propper, Biological Sciences; Zach Smithand Carol Johnson, Political Science; Abe Springer, Geology; Aregai Tecle, Forestry; andTimothy Vail, Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The universities will also be supporting internal liaisons within three state agencies—Water Resources, Environmental Quality and Commerce—to encourage flow of research information to agency personnel, and to ensure that the research done on their behalf at the universities is useful and timely. Springer serves in that capacity for NAU.

NAU expects to select several additional Arizona Water Institute projects for funding in the near future. For information, see the Arizona Water Institute Web site at